My Summer Vacation: Tritons Use Their ‘Time Off’ to Get Ahead, Go Abroad and Gain Experience
UC San Diego students study with His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, learn improv, and work in the state’s capital over summer break
When most people think of summer, they see images of barbecues, long naps and days at the beach. But Tritons see opportunities: summer classes to advance their degrees, study abroad to experience international cultures, and internships to gain practical work skills. UC San Diego provides many avenues for students to spend their summers growing academically, personally and professionally. Who says you can't do linear algebra homework in between matches of beach volleyball?
Summer Session Helps Students Achieve Academic Success
Linear Algebra happens to be one of more than 600 courses offered during UC San Diego's Summer Session, alongside Improvisation for Theater, Black Feminisms and many others. Classes run the gamut from general education requirements and prerequisites to upper division courses for most majors. Students can take up to two classes per session or four classes total. This means they can earn as many credits over the summer as during a regular quarter.
Each session enrolls about 11,000 students who take courses for a number of reasons, including enhancing career prospects. But according to Summer Session Director Becky Arce, the prime directive of the program is simply time to degree: “We want to ensure students graduate on time but also leave with the courses, knowledge and experience they need.”
Circumventing the long waitlists for her gen-ed requirements was what inspired Alexis Durham ’19 (Biology) to enroll in Summer Session last year. She took Making of the Modern World and Chemistry courses, and although she may have underestimated how intense a full-load over a condensed period would be, she still feels it was a positive experience.
“I got three classes out of the way — practically a whole quarter’s worth!” she stated. “I think there is a great benefit to Summer Session and I plan on taking more summer courses this year.”
Durham had the benefit of working in the Summer Session offices and it was there she saw exactly how easy the entire process of enrolling was. Fees are set by the University of California system and are per unit rather than per quarter. On-campus housing and dining plans are also available. For those already residing on campus, the Housing, Dining and Hospitality acceleRATE Program offers daily room rates as low as $17. Financial aid is also available, which means Summer Session can be an affordable way for students to get ahead. Most importantly, there’s still time to register!
Students Broaden Their Horizons with Study Abroad
Students seeking a non-traditional classroom can participate in Study Abroad to gain international experience, develop cross-cultural communications skills and build language capabilities.
Study Abroad options range from two-week-long summer sessions to longer adventures that span a quarter, semester or full year and take place on six continents. Each year about 1,000 UC San Diego students grab their passports and head overseas — or on the seas if they join Semester at Sea, where students have the opportunity to explore a dozen countries while cruising around the world.
Students earn college credits while also immersing themselves in a culture unlike any they’ve experienced before. Program Director Kelly O’Sullivan Sommer explained, “Studying abroad exposes students to a global perspective. It helps them gain confidence, critical thinking skills, cultural awareness and flexibility. Many students are really able to focus on their passions when they go abroad.”
Focusing on her passion for human rights is the reason Chase DiBenedetto ’17 (International Studies-Anthropology) is heading to Dharamsala, India this summer. UC San Diego’s Global Seminars, in conjunction with the Friends of the Dalai Lama Foundation, is offering students the chance to participate in one of three special programs: Climate Change and Global Health in India; Development, Human Rights and Environmental Justice in India; or Medical Anthropology and Global Health in South Asia. DiBenedetto knew this was an opportunity she could not pass up — so much so, she is delaying her graduation in order to attend!
Each five-week program focuses on a particular topic affecting India and the world, but all programs include an orientation in New Delhi, a service learning project coordinated by Amrita University in Kerala Province in southern India, and lectures and excursions to understand Tibetan culture in Dharamsala. The culmination will be a day-long audience with His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism.
“I am most excited to hear His Holiness’ views on human rights and compassion, and am honored that we have the chance to be in his company,” DiBenedetto said.
The program in India reinforces much of her coursework at UC San Diego, while also allowing her to explore some of the deeper issues facing human rights activism. Her hope for the trip is “to gain a more nuanced understanding of these concerns and to step out of the academic sphere in answering them.”
Internships Turn Classroom Knowledge into Practical Experience
It’s never too soon to start building a resume, which is why many students choose to intern over the summer. These hands-on experiences allow students to explore career paths, build a professional network, and most importantly, enrich their education through experiential learning.
UC San Diego’s Academic Internship Program (AIP) offers undergraduate students the opportunity to earn college credit while they intern, which nearly 500 Tritons do each year. Students can visit AIP’s website to browse opportunities or bring an internship to the office to be vetted. The office will help create a learning agreement and find a faculty advisor, who will help develop a project or paper proposal the student will complete to receive credit. To participate, students must have at least 90 completed units and a 2.5 GPA.
The campus also offers internships through the University of California system in Washington, D.C. and Sacramento. Diana Serrano-Vides ’17 (English Literature) participated in the UC Center Sacramento (UCCS) program last year to learn more about public policy and legislation at the epicenter of state decision-making. She interned with the League of United Latin American Citizens, an immigration policy group, where she spent her time translating documents, creating infographics and manning the phone lines.
Serrano-Vides noted, “Living in the state capital allowed me to take advantage of events and networking opportunities in Sacramento, which was essential to developing a full picture of what the work entails.”
She also received the Presidential Public Service Fellowship, designed to encourage more undergraduates to apply for public service internships. Receiving the fellowship meant she received a scholarship and had the chance to meet UC President Janet Napolitano while interning in Sacramento. Overall, the experience was so positive for Serrano-Vides that she became a student ambassador for UCCS to inform other students about the opportunity it presents.
This summer, UC San Diego offers students many worthwhile options to take class, travel the world, or gain real-world work experience. These programs exist because helping students achieve academic success is a priority for the university. As Arce put it, “This campus is really devoted to their own students.” And that means year-round.